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Rights group says photos of Homs, Syria, reveal brutality of shelling

March 2, 2012 | 12:56 pm

Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, Syria

Hundreds of damaged buildings and impact craters reveal the brutality of the weeks-long government shelling of a neighborhood in the Syrian city of Homs, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

The group analyzed commercial satellite photos of Baba Amr, which was long held by Syrian rebels before they fell back from the area Thursday, allowing government troops to move in.

The presence of armed rebels in Baba Amr "in no way justifies the scale and nature of the attack on the residential area that is reflected in the satellite imagery and the accounts from witnesses obtained by Human Rights Watch," the group said.

The satellite image above is overlaid with red circles to show destroyed or damaged buildings and yellow circles to show impact craters in open areas such as fields or roads. Human Rights Watch found that 640 buildings had been visibly damaged and at least 950 craters pocked the area. It  said the neighborhood had suffered more attacks since the photo was taken last week.

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent were kept out of Baba Amr on Friday by authorities despite a promise that they would be able to enter to help the wounded.

Opposition activists estimate that about 700 civilians have been killed in Homs. Thousands of residents were believed to be suffering shortages of food and medical supplies; an online video showed people in Homs using pots and pans to catch falling snow to obtain water.

Syria has been in the throes of an uprising against President Bashar Assad for nearly a year. The United Nations has condemned the government, saying it is guilty of rampant human rights abuses against peaceful protesters and civilians. Syrian authorities say security forces are defending the country against armed terrorists.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: Satellite imagery analyzed and overlaid with red and yellow symbols by Human Rights Watch. Source: DigitalGlobe / Human Rights Watch